Tuesday, October 31, 2006

WPA Supports Public Art

LOS ANGELES, CA – In 1940 WPA workers built a retaining wall at the corner of Sunset and Happy Feet. Their names are long forgotten but their deed is memorialized with a small brass plaque on the face of the wall.

Local cyclist and artist Caché has chosen this retaining wall as the canvas for his “Ride Forever” mural memorializing “fallen riders” everywhere.

In accepting the “support” of the long gone WPA, Caché joins the ranks of artists such as Jackson Pollack, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko, just a few of the thousands of Federal One starving artists that sought artistic and economic refuge in the WPA.

The WPA was a New Deal relief program designed to put people to work until the economy recovered and it resulted in the construction of a significant number of public facilities such as dams, parks, airports, and a significant number of highway, street and roadway projects.

Within the WPA was Federal One, a program to support artists through the Writer’s Project, the Historical Survey, the Theatre Project, the Music Project and the Art Project.

While the debate roils on about the current Federal program for starving artists, step outside, go for a ride, take a different route and discover some of the art gifts that can be found in your neighborhood.

This scene from
The Magnificent Seven is part of the Hollywood Shadow Project. It’s installed on top of Rocky Mountain Camera and for 90 minutes each day it casts a shadow on the wall of the building across the street, returning for a short spell to the site of its production company.

Sometimes you’ve got to take your eyes off the road, go for a wander, get lost, “Stick your neck out!*”

*From Casablanca, high atop the 2nd Stage Theatre, Santa Monica and Wilcox

Monday, October 30, 2006

Movin' And Shakin'

LOS ANGELES, CA – Community Leaders, educators, parents and students came together to forge an African American education agenda at Saturday’s “Education is a Civil Right” forum held in South Central Los Angeles.

Bill Cosby was the keynote speaker for the event, which drew a standing room only crowd. No punches were pulled, the dialogue was raw, direct, confrontational, troubling but, most of all, inspiring.

City of Los Angeles Councilmember Bernard Parks was in attendance and he took a moment to discuss transportation issues with SoapBoxLA. Councilmember Parks sits on the City Council Transportation Committee. He has heard SoapBoxLA testify twice on the Bikeway deficiencies found on the Santa Monica Boulevard Transit Parkway.

“Hey! Did you ride your bike?”

“As a matter of fact, I did!”

The relevance of this exchange became clear as Bill Cosby exhorted the 2000 people to stop asking for help and to start demanding it. “Jesus is not going to mow your lawn! Stop waiting for help and make it happen!”

Jimmy Lizama said it best when he proclaimed to those gathered at the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition Awards Gala;

“When I ride, I AM the bike lane.
See the sign?
It says ONE WAY. That’s right!
MY way!”

And so, to paraphrase Bill Cosby, Jesus isn’t gonna come and paint my bike lane. He’s not gonna come and put up my signs. He’s sure not gonna come and ride my bike!

With that in mind, the SoapBoxLA cycling team hopped on their trusty steeds and pedaled off to Hollywood.

BE the lane. Go YOUR way. Rinse. Repeat.

If These Halls Could Talk...

LOS ANGELES, CA – SoapBoxLA worked City Hall this week, advocating for completion of the Bikeways element of the Santa Monica Boulevard Transit Parkway.

Formal requests for help were presented to the City Council Transportation Committee on Wednesday, to the Transportation Commission on Thursday and to the Board of Public Works on Friday.

The message:

“The Santa Monica Boulevard Transit Parkway is the largest roadway improvement project in the City of Los Angeles. At a cost of $95 million, the SMBT Parkway sets the standard for multi-modal transportation.

The bikeway element of the Parkway is unsafe.

The bike lanes run 80% of the Parkway stopping just short of Century City, the most congested and conflicted stretch of the route.

The bike lanes include over a dozen “engineered conflict” ingress/egress points that are unsafe for cyclists.

The striping is inconsistent, creating a confusing environment for cyclists and motorists.

The signage support that could clarify any right-of-way confusion is non-existent.

The Oversight Committee just held its last meeting, there are no more community meetings scheduled, the SM Blvd office is closing next week, Mr. Ganaja (1 of 2 project mgrs.) retired last Friday and those responsible for the project are referring to it as "complete" or "almost finished."

Please intervene to ensure the completion of a safe and effective bikeway element for the Santa Monica Boulevard Transit Parkway.”

The Responses:

Transpo Committee: Wendy Greuel asked for the notes, said she would follow up. SoapBoxLA spoke to Glenn Ogura in the hallway and Gloria Jeff after the meeting. (Michelle Mowery & Michael Uyeno were there but quietly slipped out) Gloria said she would follow up. Borja Leon of the Mayor’s office also said he would follow up.

Transpo Commission: Two of the Commissioners asked questions about the striping, lane width, etc. Commissioner Frierson (retired LAPD Traffic Officer) pointed out that motorists have right-of-way when driving across the bike lane to turn right (they don’t) demonstrating the need for "Yield to Cyclist" signs "Bicycle Warning" signs. Again, I had the opportunity to speak with Gloria Jeff, this time at length, and she assured me and the commission that John Fisher would respond to my requests.

Board of Public Works: Commissioner Sickler indicated that in response to the SoapBoxLA written request of last week he had surveyed the Parkway on Wednesday and that he agreed with the points that have been raised. He indicated that he would address this with the Mayor's office and the DOT.

Board President Cynthia Ruiz is the highest ranking Native American in the Villaraigosa administration and she invited SoapBoxLA to join the Red Nation Celebration on the City Hall Terrace.

Lt. Governor ”Cruzzzz” Bustamonte, Deputy Mayor Larry Frank and San Antonio all joined Cynthia in kicking off American Indian Heritage Month.

Trekking downtown to fight City Hall can be a bit of a grind and sometimes it even seems futile. But then moments like this occur and serve to remind that this City truly belongs to the people.

The Halls are ours to walk and they are ours to work.

Ride your bike, dump some tea, celebrate!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Public Displays of Affection

LOS ANGELES, CA – Union Station, with its eclectic mix of Aztec and Moorish architectural influences, played host to LA’s most exclusive new nightclub this past Wednesday night. The cavernous ticket lobby filled to overflowing with a crowd that came from all over LA, in all shapes and sizes and styles and ages and sensitivities but with one huge, significant thing in common; nobody arrived in an automobile.

No amount of money could buy entrée into Global Inheritance’s “Public Displays of Affection.” Patrons were required to show their Metro tickets in order to gain admittance. No exceptions.

Proving to be as cold and heartless as the best Door Hosts in Hollywood, the PDofA staff were brutally efficient as they separated the transit guests from the motorists.

“But I’m with the Band!”

“I’m afraid not, you smell like an automobile. Next!”

Union Station is a stunning environment on any day and under any conditions but especially so when filled with music, people, energy, all creating a sense of destination.

Even the energy on the Red Line was ramped up as revelers rode to the exclusive party. Gone was the subdued anonymity of the traditional commuter and in its place was the spark of expectation.

People came together to show public transportation a little love, to celebrate freedom, to create community, to demonstrate a new sensibility and to demonstrate a commitment to a sustainable lifestyle.

Oh, yeah! They came to party!

Local cycling whacktivists gathered in Union Station’s Traxx Restaurant and Bar to solve the world’s problems and to discuss the futification© of Los Angeles.

(Note: To discuss the future is to “discussify.” To create the future is to “futify.” To do it well is to “gratify.”)

Mike Alive, Futurist, teased those within earshot with details of his upcoming public art installation to be held in Hollywood sometime in the near future. (left)

Jason Saunders, Cultural Affairs, brought us back to the Santa Monica Boulevard Transit Parkway by discussing the upcoming public art installations that are a part of the large and unsafe roadway project. (center)

The theme of the SMBT Parkway is Route 66. The landscaping will transition from the east to the west, reflecting the natural flora one would experience on a Route 66 journey from Santa Monica all the way to Illinois.

The Public Art element of the SMBT Parkway consists of large “medallions” hung from streetlight fixtures, each one representing a different State found on Route 66.

Throughout the evening, the venue, the event, the people, the mode of transportation, the conversation, the public art, the gestalt, everything came together to remind us that “getting there” is just as much a part of the adventure of life in Los Angeles as “being there.”

Slow down, look around, you may already be where you need to be!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Cellophane Cyclist

LOS ANGELES, CA – It has been suggested that the cycling community is the invisible constituency in the Los Angeles Transportation Community.

It’s worse than that.

Cyclists are the INSIGNIFICANT constituency. The IRRELEVANT constituency. The “give them some signs and they’ll go away” constituency.

It’s bad to be ignored but it’s even worse to be dismissed.

The LADOT doesn’t just ignore the cycling community. The LADOT makes a little noise, gives a few gestures of acknowledgement to the cycling community and then a hearty dismissal.

The LADOT’s response to the cycling community has gone from “WHAT?” to “WHAT NOW?”

The LADOT’s cavalier and casual attitude to the details of traffic management and communication only serves to render bikeways, signage and even cyclists as irrelevant, insignificant and absolutely ignorable.

How does the LADOT explain the bike lanes on Olympic? (pictured above, bike lanes signs in both directions with no bike lanes in sight! This just trains motorists and cyclists to ignore the signs as irrelevent.)

How does the LADOT explain the bike route signs on Chandler? (pictured below left and right)

The bike route signs on Chandler are supported by a Bike Lane!

Isolated incident? Ah, yeah, until the next one. (pictured below, the bike route/lane hybrid)

Is Chandler a bike lane?
Is Chandler a bike route?
Does the LADOT even care?

Fountain (pictured below left and right) is a bike route with BIG PLANS! This narrow and congested street goes from bike route to bike lane, this time with no striping support. Hmmm! Who's confused?

Shame on the LADOT for not knowing or for not caring about the difference between bike lanes and bike routes.

Shame on us for not demanding better from the LADOT.

Pick up the phone. Ask the LADOT to send somebody down to their parking garage, have them climb in their Cadillac Escalade, fire up the GPS unit and have it spit out an inventory of the City's Bikeways. Ask them to take this list and then have somebody ride a bicycle on each Path, Lane and Route in Los Angeles to ensure that the system makes some kind of sense.

How long could it take to inventory the Bikeways of Los Angeles? How long would it take to ride the Bikeways of Los Angeles?

Heck, on the LA Wheelmen's 2006 Grand Tour, there were two cyclists that rode 400 miles and 28 cyclists that rode 300 miles, all within 24 hours. Do we even have 400 miles of Bikeways?

The LADOT must partner with the cycling community. The LADOT must treat the local cycling community with respect. The LADOT must treat cyclists not a problem but as a transportation solution.

How can we respect ourselves if we don't even demand that our environment makes sense? How can we respect ourselves if we aren't willing to raise our voices and say to the LA DOT "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"


LA Luau Advisory Committee Prevails

LOS ANGELES, CA – The SurviveLA Skeptics Team toured the Santa Monica Boulevard Transit Parkway and had this to report:


The LA DOT has been alerted to the potential hazard of hula dancing on the island and they got right on it:

Looks like a fine place for a luau. We'll bring the pig.


The Double Arrow

LOS ANGELES, CA - The Santa Monica Boulevard Transit Parkway has frontage roads along both sides of the Parkway that are separated by landscaped islands. Motorists exiting the Parkway veer to the right of the island and motorists entering the Parkway veer to the left of the island, in both cases crossing the bike lanes.

The LADOT elected to place Double Arrow (W12-1) signs on the stationary landscaped islands to warn motorists that they may go to the left, they may go to the right, but they may NOT drive down the center of the island over the bushes and the little trees.

It would seem that the LADOT knows something about the motoring habits of those that drive the Parkway!

The use of the Double Arrow sign is optional according to the guidance of the MUTCD, which states:

“The DOUBLE ARROW (W12-1) sign may be used to advise road users that traffic is permitted to pass on either side of an island, obstruction, or gore in the roadway.”

SoapBoxLA has requested the placement of other warning signs that would draw a motorists attention to the presence of cyclists and bike lanes, especially as the motorist prepares to cross the bike lane at twice the speed of the cyclist. These signs are also optional according to the guidance of the MUTCD.

“Where motor vehicles entering an exclusive right-turn lane must weave across bicycle traffic in bicycle lanes, the BEGIN RIGHT TURN LANE YIELD TO BIKES (R4-4) sign may be used to inform both the motorist and the bicyclist of this weaving maneuver.”

“The Bicycle Warning (W11-1) alerts the road user to unexpected entries into the roadway by bicyclists, and other crossing activities that might cause conflicts.”

All three signs are positioned as optional in the MUTCD and yet the LADOT elected to place warning signs on the island but has decided to pass on the opportunity to clarify any “engineered conflict” that occurs at the egress/ingress conflict points as well as the right-turn lane weave that takes a vehicle across the bike lane at major intersections.

In spite of the fact that the Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee asked LADOT Bikeways Engineering to add signage, LADOT has refused.

Does the Los Angeles Island Landscaping Advisory Committee have more heat than the Bicycle Advisory Committee?

An island is fixed in position and is not going anywhere. It will be in the same place tomorrow. The shrubs will fill out a bit, the trees will grow a little taller, the debris will collect, and through it all, the LADOT will continue to warn people not to drive down the island.

Is the Bush & Tree Coalition doing a better job of protecting their constituency than the Bicycle Coalition?

Apparently! At this egress point, the LADOT is going to really, really warn the motorists. There are TWO Double Arrow signs on the island, one for a Mini and one for an Escalade.

In addition, frontage road traffic has TWO stop signs supported by surface text and a limit line. Whew! This area is tight!

But that’s not enough. There’s also a MERGE (W4-1) sign to warn the veering motorist that, having just blown across the bike lane, it might be time to start looking for other vehicles stopped to the right.

The LADOT is not demonstrating a strong sense of faith in the “cooperative transportation” concept and yet…

The LADOT contends that there is no need for signs warning motorists of the presence of cyclists on the bike lanes.

The LADOT contends that there is no need for signs clarifying any right-of-way issues between the bike lanes and the veering motorists.

The LADOT’s position is indefensible, it is auto-centric, it is arrogant and it is absolutely unsafe.

SoapBoXLA asks you to support the cyclists of Los Angeles by calling the Mayor and asking him if a $95 million multi-modal Parkway should be safe for cyclists. Ask him to:

Finish the Bikeway

Provide consistent striping

Place Warning signs at the conflict points

Friday, October 27, 2006

Bulk Purchasing?

"Forgive Them, For They Know Not What They Do..."
Stephen 23:34

LOS ANGELES, CA – Two weeks ago SoapBoxLA met with LADOT management to lobby for improvements to the bicycle element of the Santa Monica Boulevard Transit Parkway.

Sean Skehan, Principal Transportation Engineer for the City of Los Angeles, flatly rejected SoapBoxLA’s request for enhanced signage on the Parkway explaining “it will only confuse or desensitize motorists.”

SoapBoxLA discovered this intersection on yesterday’s “Tour de Parkway” and humbly acknowledges Sean’s intuitive grasp of the obvious.

Sean is definitely qualified to address the issues of confusion and desensitization.

Give Sean a call @ 213-972-8428 and ask him to join SoapBoxLA on a “Tour de Parkway” bike ride. He needs to get out more often!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Same Rules, Same Rights!

Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his bike for his friends.
Stephen 15:13

HOLLYWOOD, CA - The “Same rules, Same rights!” battle cry of the Integrated Cyclist is reduced to a whimper as the SoapBoxLA cycling team pedals out of the compound only to hit the demand actuated traffic signal at Hollywood Boulevard.

The signal is triggered by induction loops that are visible in the surface of the asphalt but often set at such a dull sensitivity level that only large amounts of Hummer flavored metal will trip the demand mechanism.

Grrrrr! The Team can now choose to wait for an automobile to come down the empty residential side street (could be a while) or to ride down the sidewalk and cross at a larger intersection or to simply roll through a circular red, violating CVC 21453. All bad choices!

(Watch for an upcoming blog on how SoapBoxLA beat a “rolling the red” ticket issued by a confused CHP officer)

The final choice is to try and trip the signal. Tactics include riding the coil cuts and even laying down the bicycle in the center of the coil to create a large “area” of metal.

The strategy that works the best requires the use of a cell phone. While standing in the left turn pocket, watching the traffic go by, dial 213-485-4184 and report the signal.

The LADOT traffic engineers tend to err in favor of a less sensitive setting to avoid having right-turning adjacent traffic (more common here than left-turning traffic) trip the signal. With no feedback from the cycling community there is an LADOT assumption that all is well in Paradise.

Changing the cycling environment of Los Angeles will come in small steps, intersection by intersection, traffic engineer by traffic engineer, motorist by motorist, and even cyclist by cyclist.

Take the road, ride cooperatively and remember that one of the most powerful tools you travel with is your cell phone.

Load it with these numbers, make some noise and change your world!

LADOT Communications 213-485-4184 x 2

Gloria Jeff – LADOT General Manager 213-972-8480

Michelle Mowery – LADOT Bikeways Coordinator 213-972-4962

Michael Mays – LADOT Bikeways Engineer 213-972-4959

City of Los Angeles Information 311 or 213-485-2121

LAPD Dispatch 213-485-2681 or 877-275-5273
(911 cell phone calls sometimes go to CHP)

Potholes - Bureau of Street Services 800-996-2489

Street Lights - Bureau of Street Lighting – 311
(Exec offices - 213-847-1482)

MTA or Metro – 213-922-6235

Lynne Goldsmith – Metro Bikeways 213-922-3068

Metro Sheriff’s Department 323-563-5000

For transportation issues specific to your neighborhood,
contact your local Transportation Engineer:

Hollywood/Wilshire DOT Office 323-845-9835

Central DOT Office 213-972-4990

Southern DOT Office 310-732-4599

East Valley DOT Office 818-374-4688

West Valley DOT Office 818-756-8784

Western District DOT Office 310-575-8138

The 80% Solution

LOS ANGELES, CA - This is the END! The end of the Santa Monica Boulevard Transit Parkway Bike Lane. Please get off your bicycle and walk to the curb. There will be no more of that “Multi-Modal” noise on the Parkway.

There is no more room. There are only six lanes through the Avenue of the Stars and they belong to the Cars. The Automobiles. The Internal-Combustion, Fossil-Fuel-Burning Single-Occupant Vehicles of Insulation, Isolation and Oblivion.

Pedestrians and Cyclists just don’t fit!

Now, get into one of the cars parked to the side of the road (one person to a car!) and pull into the traffic lane and act like a Lemming!

Good motorist. Now, please, no more of that silly Multi-Modal nonsense! We only talk Multi-Modal when we’re qualifying an URBAN HEAT ISLAND project for Federal Funding.

This is the Santa Monica Boulevard Transit Parkway approaching Beverly Hills. There is no room for a bike lane because this is where the LADOT stores unused diagonal stripes.

Even if the very important diagonal lines were stored elsewhere the bike lane would not fit because the freshly built island and the newly installed street light is in the way.

What’s behind the tree?

Oh! It’s the Beverly Hills Asphalt Museum! No wonder we couldn’t build a state-of-the-art multi-modal transportation corridor that would be compatible with a continuation project through neighboring Beverly Hills!

No right of way! No abandoned and unused wasteland! So who uses this land?

Ah! Traffic Engineers!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Take The Freeway!

HIGHWAY 101 NORTH, CA - SoapBoxLA was surprised to discover that the California Vehicle Code allows cyclists to ride on the Freeway if there are no alternative surface streets available.

There was a moment of disbelief as the SoapBoxLA cycling team stood at the onramp to the 101N and watched cars flying by at 70 miles an hour. This did not seem to be the environment for a scenic bike ride up the coast but, sure enough, there was a sign with official Caltrans tape covering up the word "bicycle" on the sign. One can't ask for a heartier endorsement than that!

As it turns out, riding a bicycle on the freeway is unbelievably conflict free. The cars stay in their lanes, they have little if any motivation for driving down the shoulder and the only drawback is the road debris.

The important rule to remember is that the cyclist MUST exit at every off-ramp and then proceed through the intersection and back on the freeway using the off-ramp. Never cross the line of a car doing 70 miles an hour yelling "I'm traffic too!" and expect to prevail.

Riding your bicycle on the freeway is a confidence booster. Once you've held your line on the shoulder as 18 wheelers blast past you doing 70 mph, you'll find yourself sneering at the next Humvee that squeezes you on Sunset Boulevard and yelling "Is that all you've got?"

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Dick Van Patton says "Ride On!"

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – SoapBoxLA dropped by Beverly Hills to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Beverly Hills Police Department.

Lobbying City and Police officials at an event like this turned out to be like hunting deer at a salt lick!

In addition to receiving a word of cycling encouragement from Dick Van Patton, SoapBoxLA was able to discuss cycling as a solution to the traffic congestion in Beverly Hills.

Stephen Webb, the Mayor, expressed hope that the big-picture infrastructure improvements and the short-term resurfacing improvements to Santa Monica Boulevard would create better conditions for cyclists.

SoapBoxLA congratulated Jimmy Delshad on his recently announced plan to create a car-free section of Rodeo Drive and encouraged him to include cycling in his multi-modal solution to the congestion in Beverly Hills.

Barry Brucker reminisced on the days when kids could ride their bikes to school, drawing a City Commissioner and the incoming Superintendent of Schools into the conversation. He suggesting that a reduction in the number of parents dropping kids off at school would go a long way to reducing traffic congestion, all of which is dependent on the kids being able to safely ride their bikes to school.

Linda Briskman spoke of her participation in the Westside Communities Council of Governments and indicated that she thought a bigger picture approach to education and communication, through the COG, was in order.

The highlight of the afternoon was the unveiling of the Rexford Drive “Helicopter Lane.”

Hey, they’re traffic too!

Critical Mess!

BUDAPEST, HU – Mr. and Mrs. SoapBoxLA, ever the romantics, planned their recent European nuptials around the Budapest Critical Mass ride on International Carfree Day.

Budapest Critical Mass riders had previously set the standard for Critical Mass rides when, on Earth Day 2006, approximately 30,000 cyclists literally took over Budapest.

Budapest’s April Mass went to each of the four parliamentary party headquarters where participants massed in the streets with bikes overhead and delivered petitions and recommendations for improving bicycle transportation in Hungary.

The President of the Republic of Hungary rode the Mass, the Budapest City Council responded positively, the Ministry of Economy and Transportation created the post of Ombudsman of Bicycle Affairs and the “Tour de Votes” motivated all four parties to include bicycle programs in their current platforms.

SoapBoxLA was set to ride the Budapest Critical Mass!

Drums could be heard in the distance as SoapBoxLA crossed from Buda to Pest on the Chain Bridge. In the distance a small group of men carrying a Hungarian flag disappeared up the street. Farther on, several men were busy on the sidewalk painting banners on sheets with brushes and black paint.

On the shore of the Danube stood the Parliament Building. Loud music could be heard through the streets. Somebody was giving a speech, a very loud speech.

And yet, not a bike in sight.

One small, cobblestone street led to another and the noise grew louder until the streets opened onto the square in front of the Parliament Building where thousands of protesters were gathered.

The Critical Mass had given way to a revolution of sorts. National Television was seized by protesters, a couple of hundred people were injured, the Parliament Building was shut down and then surrounded by Riot Police.

Locals seized the opportunity to both practice their English and to voice their demands. Employment, health care, inflation, corrupt government and the clash of political agendas were frequent and common issues of complaint.

The topics were familiar but the energy and passion was unique. It was exhilarating, it was passionate and it was humbling.

SoapBoxLA went for a bike ride, stumbled into a Revolution and came home challenged, inspired and reminded that change takes place when people use their feet, literally!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Free Range Hungarians!

GRIFFITH PARK, CA - SurviveLA submits this pic as evidence that the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Park(ing) is not just responsive to the complaints from the community, it is over-reactive, punitive and petty!

In a prior post, we shared our concerns with the Rec and Park(ing) prohibition on pedestrian and cycling traffic through the Vermont Tunnel.

Apparently the complaints to those in power were numerous and included a few phone messages made by someone of Eastern Bloc origins.

We understand the ban on cars. There are too many, they don’t fit, it’s a park! Walk, ride a bike, take a nap, hug a tree. Just get out of the car.

But we don’t understand the ban on Hungarians. After all, they have the oldest underground subway in the world. We could learn from them.

They also have the largest Critical Mass in the world, gathering 25,000 to 30,000 cyclists at a time to celebrate cycling and drink the Kool-Aid.

And so we urge you to join us again in calling Rec and Park(ing) and asking that the Vermont Tunnel be opened to all people on foot or on bicycle. (but not in a car!)

While you have them on the phone, remind them to take a look at demand actuated “cyclist in tunnel” signal that would address the safety issues found in a narrow mountain tunnel.

Cyclists just hit the signal as they enter the tunnel, lights flash for a pre-determined length of time, motorists are alerted to the occupants in the tunnel.

SoapBoxLA would love to work with Rec & Park(ing) on developing a multi-modal access plan for Griffith Park and it starts with putting people first, not cars.

Jon Kirk Mukri, General Manager of Rec and Park(ing)

Marilyn J. White, Acting Griffith Region Superintendent

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Observatory Celebration Derailed!

MOUNT HOLLYWOOD, CA - Last night, SurviveLA and SoapBoxLA joined CD4 Councilmember Tom LaBonge in celebrating the reopening of the newly remodeled Griffith Observatory at a special preview event for the Hollywood Hills community.

The reopening of the Observatory is especially significant to the local cycling and hiking community because of the long fight to maintain cycling and hiking access to the Observatory.

It was a beautiful evening and the Observatory staff had the telescope fired up so that guests were able to take at Vega, apparently a very hot star way of in the distance.

Unfortunately, witnessing the wonders of the Universe did little to take the sting off the local discovery of one of the blunders of the Universe.

Within the last few days, the Department of Recreation and Park(ing) has posted signs forbidding cyclists and pedestrians in the Vermont Canyon Road Tunnel, the tunnel that connects the east and west access to the Observatory roads.

These new signs replace signs that cautioned motorists to watch for the presence of cyclists and pedestrians in the tunnel.

Actually, they don’t replace the old caution signs, they ARE the old caution signs, repainted! You can still see the outline of the old lettering underneath the new paint.

While the Department of Recreation and Park(ing) deserves encouragement as they explore the world of recycling, they picked the wrong items to recycle.

Granted, the tunnel is small but other, evolved departments and communities have dealt with a situation like this by installing warning lights that are activated by the cyclists and peds upon entry to the tunnel or by simply restricting the motorist traffic. It is, after all, a park.

SoapBoxLA spoke to CD4 Deputy Patty Malone and was assured that the signs would come down and would be replaced or recycled so that the new signs again permitted cyclists and peds and cautioned the motorists.

So take a ride, go up Fern Dell or Vermont or Hillhurst. It’s 2.3 miles from Los Feliz on Fern Dell, it’s 1.6 from Loz Feliz on Vermont or Hillhurst. Take a look at the Vermont Canyon Road Tunnel. If the signs are still on either end of the tunnel, pick up the phone and call Jon Kirk Mukri, (213-928-9033) the General Manager of the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Park(ing).

And then continue up the hill to the Observatory, stand where 70 million others have stood, and take a look through the most popular telescope in the world.

Colonel Griffith J. Griffith was convinced that the power of the cosmic experience was sufficient to influence culture and change the world.

This world could use some changing, so go on, take a peek!